Surround-Sound Ads Make Their Way to Retailers’ Registers

With American retailers preparing to replace their aging point-of-sale units at record rates, a retail POS vendor called VeriFone wants to flood checkout lanes with Linux-based full-motion video, 65,356-color displays and digital stereo sound.

The new unit—dubbed the MX870—is designed to deliver animated ads and demos in a loud, attention-demanding manner, which is not hard when customers have no choice but to stand in line.

“Retailers are very much looking to extend their brands,” said Marcus Hodge, a product marketing manager at VeriFone.

“They want to use the POS lane to communicate with customers more effectively. It’s like a retailer having their own television network, with the ability to run any kind of animation.”

The POS system is also intended to automatically handle many of today’s retail POS needs, including RFID, smart cards, biometric identification (fingerprint primarily) and various touch technologies.

The MX870 uses a 32-bit ARM9 processor, the Linux operating system, 16 Mbytes of SDRAM and 32MB of Flash memory, which is upgradeable to a total of 128 MByte for SDRAM and flash memory combined.

Hodge said the system boasts a smaller footprint, which beats by one or two inches the width, height and depth of existing POS displays.

The company is trying to sell these to retailers who are unsure of which technology direction they’ll adopt and want options.

“We work hard to future-proof our products so we designed this product to be modular,” Hodge said. “One quarter of it is field-replaceable. There’s no other POS system, no other modular product that can support in-field—and even hot-swappable—upgrades in this kind of an integrated, finished, complete product.”

The system also can be used to take customer surveys, alert pharmacy customers to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) changes and add other customized functions that a general-purpose PC could handle, but a special-function POS machine could not, he said.

Another example: “Let’s say you want people to be able to process film at a kiosk, but you don’t want to install an entire kiosk,” Hodge said. “You could create a self-serve photo kiosk.”

Evan Schuman can be reached at

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